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The world's best iced tea in ten minutes.

By John Rice, General Manager

I'm always surprised that people who insist on the high quality of loose leaf tea when they intend to drink it hot, assume they have to use bagged tea when they will be drinking it iced. The fact is, using loose leaf tea for iced tea is incredibly simple and fast, and doesn't require much equipment that most kitchens don't already have. A larger infuser, like a 6 cup tea ball or Chelsea reusable cloth tea bag, is probably all you need.

Here is how I make a gallon of the world's best iced tea in ten minutes:

  • Fill a large saucepan with about 2 quarts of fresh water and put it on high heat to boil. The exact amount of boiling water isn't critical. I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to consistency, so I always weigh the tea I use, since it is the only truly accurate way to get the same amount every time. With unflavored or lightly flavored teas, I measure out .70 oz (20 grams) of tea (about 4 tablespoons). With flavored teas that have chunks of anything other than tea (fruit rinds, spices, etc.) I usually use 1 oz (28 grams, or about 5 tablespoons). You may want to adjust to your own tastes. Put your tea in the infuser. In many cases, one 6 cup tea ball should be big enough, but if it seems a bit tight, which it will be with certain teas, split the tea between two of them. Better yet, use a Chelsea reusable cloth tea bag.
  • Once the water is boiling, take it off the heat, put the infuser in the water and start your timer. Pull the infuser through the water periodically, to make sure it is getting good exposure to the water. When the time is up, take the infuser out of the water. If you want to add sugar, do it now and stir completely.
  • Finally, I pour the hot tea into a gallon pitcher which is about half full of ice. For the clearest tea possible, I set a large colander across the top of the pitcher, put a sheet of sack cloth in the colander and pour the tea through it. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with tap water and you're good to go. Rinse out your infuser, colander and sack cloth and let them dry for the next time.

I recommend trying any tea you enjoy hot. Impress your friends with a delicious tumbler of your favorite loose leaf tea. You will be surprised how good iced tea can be. Take it easy on the sugar at first. High quality tea deserves to have its flavor come through.

A couple suggestions. It is best if the saucepan is NOT non-stick. That way you can quickly scrub out any residue left by the tea. Also, an electric kettle makes the whole process even faster, since they boil water in significantly less time than the stove top. Any avid tea drinker should have one anyway and they are easy to find at most department stores such as Target. I still use the saucepan to brew the tea, and preheat it a bit while the water is boiling, but I put the infuser in the saucepan and pour the boiling water over it as it sits in the saucepan.

Got a favorite iced tea method of your own?  Please share!

6 comments to The world’s best iced tea in ten minutes.

  • Glenn

    While most people probably use plastic pitchers, I just wanted to throw in my two cents for anyone using a glass pitcher.

    If you have a glass pitcher half filled with ice, and you then pour in the hot tea, there’s a good possibility that the pitcher will crack. Hot liquids and cold glass do not play well together. I’ve experienced once, and i’ve witnessed it happen to others many times, after years working as a bartender and getting the occasional request for iced coffee.

    There is a very simple trick though, that will let you use a glass pitcher without any worries. Before you pour the hot tea into the glass pitcher, simply place something metal inside the pitcher. Behind the bar, I always used a long metal bar spoon, but a regular spoon, knife or even metal skewers would work.

    Something about thermal stress and the metal absorbing enough heat to prevent cracking. I’m not exactly sure the science behind why it works. I just know that it does!

  • Alexander

    This is really interesting! I’ve never thought about it this way! I’m going to go give it a try. :D Thanks!

    Oh, Glenn, thank you as well, you just saved me a good glass pitcher :)

  • nancy

    I know every one will cringe but I use the mr coffee ice tea maker and use a little coffee filter in the basket. It works really well for iced green tea. I don’t use any ice in the pitcher. I just fill it with tap water when it is done brewing and refrigerate.

  • One item I wanted to add. If your iced tea turns cloudy, it typically helps to chill it as fast as possible, so pouring over lots of ice usually helps. Still, some loose leaf teas, especially the highest quality ones, have a tendency to turn a bit cloudy when iced. It is not a sign of poor quality in any way and if often the opposite.

    John Rice – General Manager

  • Lisa Deutsch Harrigan

    Nancy you aren’t the only one. Years ago I got a Mr Coffee Iced Tea Machine. I admit I use bags, but you can and they even say you can, line it with a filter material and put in loose tea. I make 1/2 gallon at a time, filling both the reservoir and the pitcher with water, since I’ll be putting it in the fridge to finish chilling out.
    My blend is 4 Earl Grey and two Lipton tea bags. Yes, it really needed more black tea. I do occasionally switch to Green Tea Earl Grey for a change up, then I go to 8 bags all GTEG.
    And I’ve found the best way to avoid Cloudy Iced Tea is to make sure you use filtered water. Most water from the taps has just enough impurities. We have a reserve osmosis system that we use for all our “Good” water needs.

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